Hiking may inherently be a solitary experience, and the rewards of this time alone with nature, especially in today’s world, could not be more profound. The words of Emerson, Thoreau and Abbey are as constant a companion as are the wildlife who share the mountain. But taking to the trail can also be quite the little social outing — a chance to share the experience and news of the day on a leafy jaunt with friends is an essential part of the social fabric on the mountain. The takeaway is that the trails at Balsam, all 34 miles of them — are a joy alone or shared, whenever the hour or season.
Balsam has one of the most impressive trail systems anywhere in the South. But right alongside of every trail are miles of streams that rush, cascade, babble and roar — a wonderland of water, light and leaf. All beckon to be explored.
It might be those with a curious nature who, while wandering the Preserve, kneel down and spy an apparent artifact that was either chipped out of native stone or acquired through trade with a nomad from the Tennessee River Valley and came to rest here. Western North Carolina’s human history is replete with these types of discoveries and the Preserve is no different.
Walk in deep woods under the tree canopy, watch for deer, smell the aroma of the forest botanicals, and admire the Carolina blue sky through the trees. Some of the trails meander into the Nantahala National Forest — a 500,000-acre playground that forms the Preserve’s southern border.
Balsam Mountain Trust employs three full-time naturalists to help manage resources, provide educational opportunities, conduct research, and more. With backgrounds in zoology, ornithology, and botany, our naturalists offer guided hikes on the Preserve’s trail system all year long. Watch your children’s or grandchildren’s eyes light up the first time they see a wild turkey or turn over a rock to discover a colorful salamander!
Contact us today to schedule a visit and see for yourself what it means to spend time with the ones you love most at Balsam Mountain Preserve